Obit: Eugene “Gene” Otten, Barton

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A pall will likely hang over Barton the next few days as word spreads Eugene “Gene” Otten has died.

 

Otten was an institution in Barton. During his heyday Gene ran Otten’s Store, 1805 Barton Ave.  He picked up the business from his father, Anthony who passed away Sept. 10, 1980.

 

Gene Otten was a God-fearing man and had a long history of helping his neighbors.

 

“Gene has lived a long and fruitful life, not based on money, or material riches, but on the riches of a smile, for helping others,” said Steven Senior. 

 12239724_782453328543244_5196173145364221612_n                                                                                        (Photo courtesy of Darren Schacht)
He gave so much to so many, when his friends were broke, just so they could have something to eat,” said Steven Senior. “You never seen a tombstone that read “I wish I would of spent more time at work” but in Gene’s case I am sure that many of his customers would of enjoyed his company at the store for a few more years.”

Beth Biertzer recalled visiting Otten’s Food Market and how nothing was priced. “You’d go in for one item and end up carrying someone’s groceries to their car for them,” she wrote. 

The most memorable items were the eggs, 3 dozen for $1 and Gene’s black ‘discount’ pen.
For many neighbors in the community, Gene and his wife Susie were one in the same.  The couple met and married in their 20s. Susie died, May 20, 2009.
Ricky Brockman wrote, “There are very few people in this world who are always more concerned with the welfare of others. Gene and Susie Otten have a special place reserved for them in heaven; they defined the good neighbor and always made sure the people of Barton were taken care of. I remember them telling my grandmother they would never raise her rent as long as she lived in Barton, and I delivered many groceries from Otten’s Store “on credit” which was Otten-speak for “don’t worry, we have you covered.” Anyone who lived in Barton between 1950 and 2000 owes Gene and Suzie Otten a huge debt of gratitude.”
Sandy Gray Babington remembered the Ottens. “I grew up in Barton, and lived in the Apt. behind the Long Branch Saloon (in the late 70’s). I was just starting out, and the kindness shown to me by Susie and Gene was immeasurable. The store was a place of comfort. I don’t think I ever paid the full price for anything….I was so grateful. I think of them fondly. Every time I visit West Bend, and drive through Barton, I’m amazed at the changes, and the things that haven’t changed. I look for the store and am saddened that Ottens Store is no more. Mr. Otten and family, my prayers are with you.”

 

Gene Otten died Saturday at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Funeral arrangements are pending.

 

 

Photo courtesy Lynda Otten.

 

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